Card Sorting

Card Sorting


45 Pages


Card sorting helps us understand how people think about content and categories. Armed with this knowledge, we can group information so that people can better find and understand it. In this book, Donna describes how to plan and run a card sort, then analyse the results and apply the outcomes to your project.



Published by
Published 01 April 2009
Reads 46
EAN13 9781457102196
Language English
Document size 9 MB

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Click here for more information on this offer!How to Use This Book
At its core, card sorting is a pretty simple technique—write things on index cards
(or the software equivalent) and ask people to sort the cards into groups.
But as is the case with most simple things, there is plenty of room for complexity.
Figuring out why you would bother to do this in the first place; deciding what to
put on the cards; guiding people through the activity so you get something useful;
and actually applying what you’ve learned—all these can get pretty tricky for real-
life messy projects.
That’s why I wrote a whole book on card sorting—to share what I’ve learned via
lots of card sorts and via working on projects where I had to organize information
that people could easily find, understand, and use.
This is a practical book with a touch of theory and interesting real-life case
studies. It is based on work that I, and many others, do day-to-day. I hope it helps
you with your day-to-day work as well.
Who Should Read This Book?
This book is for anyone who needs to organize information that other people have
to use. It will be particularly useful for people involved in information
architecture projects (which I describe much better in Chapter 1).
If you have never run a card sort and are thinking of doing so, this book is
definitely for you. By the end, you’ll be able to plan your sort, run it, and figure out
what you’ve learned.
If you’ve run card sorts already, this book is for you, too. I’ve included plenty of
tips based on my experience, and you may really like the chapters on analysis (9
and 10), especially if you have never attempted statistical analysis in the past.
And if you don’t think you’ll ever run a card sort, but have a team that might need
to do so, there’s plenty of valuable information here for you. You’ll be able to
better support your team when they ask if they can run a sort (or do other user
research). You may get the most from Chapters 1 and 2, and how the outcomes of
card sorting are used for projects.
What’s in This Book?
This book is organized into four main sections.
Chapters 1 and 2 provide background. Chapter 1 covers what card sorting is all
about, why you’d do it, and how it fits in a project. Chapter 2 is not about card
sorting at all, but instead is about some of the really important principles that
underlie categorization and why it is hard to organize things.
Chapters 3 through 8 cover all the practical steps to run a card sort, including
choosing your method, selecting cards, arranging participants, making cards, and
facilitating the session. This whole section is very practical and full of tips and
Chapters 9 and 10 are all about analysis—extracting insights from the card sort
data and observations. Chapter 9 is about exploratory analysis and Chapter 10 is
about statistical analysis (that’s the scariest chapter).
The last section is about using what you have learned. Chapter 11 teaches you
how to apply the outcomes to your projects, and in Chapter 12 you’ll learn about
communicating the results.
What Comes with the Book?
This book’s companion website (
contains pointers to useful card-sorting resources, such as my card sort analysis
spreadsheet, a list of card-sorting tools, and a card-sorting bibliography, as well
as a calendar of my upcoming talks and a place for you to engage in discussion
with others who are interested in card sorting. You can keep up with the site by
subscribing to its RSS feed (
We’ve also made the book’s diagrams, screenshots, and other illustrations
available under a Creative Commons license for you to download and include in
your own presentations. You’ll find the original illustrations and diagrams from
this book at